I’ve started posting on LinkedIn since July 2020.
I selected here a few of those that had more than 500 views.
The 85% Rule
Is pushing yourself always necessary?
I personally have a hard time relaxing. I always feel I haven’t done enough.
When I heard of the 85% rule in the Tim Ferriss Show with Hugh Jackman, it reminded me of the story of Derek Sivers with the bicycle.
Derek used to ride his bicycle on the fifteen-mile loop. He was giving 100%. He would finish the loop exhausted in 43 minutes.
After a few months, he started losing enthusiasm for this round trip.
So he decided to chill; to give 50%. It took him 45 minutes to do the same loop,
He had a different experience for half the effort and about the same time.
He was smiling, enjoyed the view on the beach, and felt recharged.
The 85% rule is about the same thing.
For intense people who always push themselves, giving 85% instead of 100% can get them better results.
You get better results because in one you operate from a state of relaxation, the other from a state of stress.
Variability is the key.
Giving 100% when 100% it’s needed. And operate at a lower level the rest of the time.
Having the illusion of doing your best when you only gain stress and exhaustion is not a good strategy in the long run.
Have you ever experienced information indigestion?
I took a speed-reading course so I can read more books.
But after a while, I came across a problem. I knew more but I internalized nothing.
In a week, I could have listened to a podcast or two, watched a couple of videos, read some articles and one book.
If I don’t sit and process all these pieces of information, it becomes useless; noise inside my head that is slowing me down.
Sometimes, I feel like my head is a gigantic parking area where all cars are honking and trying to exit from a single bottleneck!
Cars are all those blocks of information calling for my attention that I don’t have time to process and set free.
And by processing new information I mean:
– Linking it to what I already know
– Knowing in which context I can use it
– Finding ways to apply it to my life
Knowing a lot is not difficult. Having knowledge is a step above knowing.
It means to take the information, act on it, live by it, and benefit from it.
Knowing less and having more knowledge is far better than knowing more and having little knowledge.
To stay healthy, don’t eat more than you can digest.
Solitude and Creativity
Two concepts I find useful for every day’s life:
– Withdrawal and return
– The hero’s journey
Radical change is initiated by individuals who withdraw from society to develop in solitude their knowledge, wisdom, and strength.
Then they return to society to benefit everyone.
Confucius, Buddha, St Paul, Muhammad (PBUH), and many others followed the same path.
This recurrent pattern is what the historian Arnold Toynbee called withdrawal and return.
Joseph Campbell found another pattern but in the myths this time.
The quest of an individual to realize his higher potentials is what he calls the ‘Myth of the Hero’s Journey’.
The hero ventures from known to unknown territory. In the end, he’s reborn with a new sense of strength and purpose.
Sometimes, incrementally improving our life or business doesn’t give us satisfaction.
What we’re looking for is a radically new solution or way of living.
Without the influence of our usual environment, we generate innovative ideas.
Practicing solitude allows discovering oneself and our environment under a new light.
Creativity is in the solitude of the cave.
Stay in it for an hour, a day, or a month. Hopefully, you’ll come up with something that will change your life or business.
The Speaker’s Block
I don’t encounter the writer’s block, but the speaker’s block.
To prepare for my article “Learning How to Learn”, I reread the book of Josh Waitzkin “The Art of Learning”. I came across this anecdote.
A teacher asks his student to write a 500-word story about her small town where nothing seems to happen. She couldn’t write a word.
So he changed her assignment. He asks her to write about the front of the opera house, in a small street in that same town. She should start with the upper-left-hand brick.
The new assignment liberates the student and she could come up with 20 inspired pages!
Could we apply this cure for writing blocks to speaking blocks?
Can we use it when we need to talk to strangers or to avoid these awkward silent moments during a conversation?
I believe we’re not lacking things to say. It’s quite the opposite. We have too much to say.
What we’re missing is the starting point.
By plunging into the micro to look for the smallest detail to start with, we can cure both the writing and speaking blocks.
Islamic Medicine of the Golden Age
Why the Islamic medicine of the Golden Age was so advanced?
I was preparing my article about the medicine of the Prophet (PBUH) and again, I got lost in my researches following some curiosities.
But I came to this realization: one of the reasons the Muslims succeeded is their receptiveness to the new.
Muslims didn’t stop at translating the work of the Greeks, they also included a variety of medical practices from the Persians to the Indian tradition of Ayurveda.
Somehow, they were unifying the universal knowledge of medicine.
We don’t make breakthroughs by staying in a shell, but by getting interested in the work of other people and nations.
On a humble level, it’s this mindset that I try to communicate through my blog The Muslim Shepherd.
I close with this quote by George Bernard Shaw:
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
I laughed when I read this passage of “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long” by Robert A. Heinlein:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
In a specialized world, this is a refreshing thought!
Muslims Are So Predictable
We can tackle the caricature of the Prophet (PBUH) from different angles.
This post is about the Muslim’s response.
Let’s get this out of the way. The media and politicians already know that 99.99% of Muslims are not terrorists. They also know that whatever they publish or say, the response of Muslims will be A, B, or C.
Muslims will protest, boycott, engage in lawsuits, post an emotional comment, or question the inaction of Muslim governments.
These are all well-intentioned responses, but they remain reactions.
Just as many of us don’t know that much about other religions and systems of thinking, we can’t expect non-Muslims to know about the Prophet.
However, what they know is what they see: the Muslim neighbor, the Muslim boss, the Muslim colleague, the Muslim product, the Muslim citizen.
The caricatures can’t hurt the Prophet because they are meant for us.
I believe that the best way to honor the Prophet is to showcase his teachings. In our neighborhood, in our workplace, in the country we’re living in, in our interactions with others, in the products we deliver.
A small daily action will have more impact than a temporary strong reaction.
How should we respond when the Prophet is insulted?
How should we respond when the Prophet is insulted?
Most likely, the insults to the Prophet (PBUH) won’t stop any soon.
To gain some clarity about the attitude to adopt, it is helpful to go back in time and see how the Prophet dealt with insults.
By doing so, we can adopt a similar behavior for the coming years and focus on what is important.
As Muslims, we have a lot of work to do on developing ourselves, our communities, and be a force for good in this world. There’s no time for distractions.
This is the idea behind my last article “How to honor the Prophet?”
If our worldview is made of our unique experiences and the opinions of people we trust, how can we possibly agree on anything?
We all have different experiences and we trust different people. So there’s no chance of having similar worldviews.
When two different worldviews bump into each other, anomalies start rising. Some thoughts and opinions don’t fit in our world.
In general, we find ourselves with 2 options:
– Either our worldview is wrong or incomplete.
– Or the other worldview is wrong or incomplete.
It is hard to admit our ignorance so we choose the second option.
Even if there are alternatives to this binary scenario, we fail to consider them.
We can be both wrong, both right, or both having incomplete models of the world.
Anyway, finding what separates us from others is easy. It doesn’t require any effort.
It’s so easy that you can witness it inside the same country, the same faith, the same ethnic group, or even the same family.
The champions look for the common points.
And the least we have in common is our humanity, with all its complexity.
Imam Ali once said:
“People are of two kinds, either your brothers in faith or your equals in humanity.”
How Do We Actually Learn?
Shane Parrish distinguishes consuming online content or having an experience from the actual learning.
The real learning follows a loop.
We start by consuming information or having an experience.
Then we reflect on this knowledge.
And we turn the reflection into abstraction. Meaning, we codify the new knowledge by giving the mind clear instructions on how to use it.
Once we have the instructions, we put them to practice.
This way, we’re having an experience and start the process again.
This loop requires time that most of us lack.
Time is a finite resource. Content and experiences are abundant.
How can we conciliate the limited with the unlimited?
One solution is to have constraints.
Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle is perfect for turning something abundant into limited.
Eisenhower used to organize his workload by focusing on the urgent and important.
The same principle can apply to our learning.
Anything we want to learn fits in one of these blocks:
Important and urgent to learn
Important but not urgent
Not important but urgent
Not important and not urgent
To use the loop of learning, we need time.
By screening out the non-important, we free time to learn effectively.
Where is your bad work?
As we grow older, we create so much drama about our bad work.
We fear judgment. Or we wait for perfection.
What is the difference between perfection and perfecting?
The first does not exist. The second is always possible.
It reminds me of the story of this professor who divided his students into two groups.
He asked the first group to submit ONE perfect photo during the semester.
And he asked the second group ONE HUNDRED photos to be rated an A.
Guess what happened?
All the best photos were in the quantity group.
They did not have time to debate about perfection.
They perfected their work as they go.
Bad work has always been the starting point since our childhood.
We did badly riding a bicycle for the first time. Same for swimming or writing our first words.
We perfected our work by doing, redoing, and redoing again.
Producing bad work is how we get to good work.
Don’t dramatize. Just do it!